More accurate labeling resolves lawsuit

Tropicana Peach Papaya drink has no peach juice and no papaya juice. In fact, the very small amount of juice in this drink is pear juice from concentrate. But at least the company will make some changes to its labels which will help consumers understand the drink is a flavored drink and not 100 percent juice. In response, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and two private lawyers have agreed to drop a lawsuit against Tropicana’s parent company, PepsiCo.

The lawsuit was originally filed by attorneys Mark Cuker and William Riback on behalf of a New Jersey consumer who purchased Tropicana Peach Papaya. CSPI, which in May announced its intention to use litigation more often to stop deceptive food labeling practices, joined the Tropicana case earlier this year. The new label will identify the product as “Peach Papaya flavored juice drink/from concentrate with other natural flavors,” and will drop the phrase “Made with REAL Fruit Juice.” The company will also do so for its Tropicana Strawberry Melon, which contains no strawberry juice or melon juice.

“There are important differences between real fruit juice on the one hand, and sodas and fruit-flavored drinks on the other,” said CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner. “Tropicana Peach Papaya and Tropicana Strawberry Melon simply are not 100 percent juice, and this settlement will help make that more clear.”

“We’re open to listening to legitimate concerns and this seemed like a reasonable concern,” said Danielle Vona, director of juice and juice drinks, Pepsi-Cola North America. “We want to take every opportunity we can to provide consumers with nutrition information about our products.”

The labels will still depict pictures of peaches and papayas. The actual ingredients of the drink are water, high-fructose corn syrup, filtered pear juice from concentrate, citric acid, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, ascorbic acid, sodium polyphosphates, natural flavors, potassium benzoate, gum arabic, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, ester gum, calcium disodium EDTA, yellow 6, and red 40.

“These changes will help consumers understand that the juice drink is only juice-flavored, with very little real juice,” said Cuker. “We are happy that PepsiCo agreed to these labeling changes and that we did not need to move forward with litigation.”

“As part of this settlement, PepsiCo has agreed to make a $100,000 donation to the American Heart Association for its work in New Jersey,” Riback added. In May, PepsiCo’s Quaker Foods unit agreed to resolve a similar dispute involving the labeling of several varieties of instant oatmeal and grits. New labels on those products make the words “artificially flavored” more prominent.